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[1989-08-05-NJPW] Jushin Liger vs Kantaro Hoshino

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Aaaaaah! Pro wrestling! WAR Hoshino!!! Hoshino immediately goes to town on goofy original costume Liger and just destroys him with barrages of awesome punch combos and rights and lefts and then some. Liger fires back with an awesome flurry of palm strikes only get punched in the FACE again and sinking to the 3rd rope selling this like a pro. After eating a truely Murdochian asskicking of punches, stumpy leg kicks and elbow drops, Liger makes a brief comeback directing a charging Hoshino to the outside and then crushing him with a sideways suicide dive against the guardrail. Hoshino won't back down though, as he posts Liger, slaps the referee and then fires back with a big plancha of his own! Liger does some of his goofy early mannerisms, such as going into fighting stance like a video game character, and not really having great comebacks, but he does love to kick Hoshino in the face here. Hoshino continues his utter dominance with fun ways to work over Liger such as ripping his mask, kicking him in the face or busting out a cool leg stretch/pin combo. Hoshino eats one of the nastiest koppu kicks I've seen but is able to gain the upper hand using his speed again and gets a nice string of nearfalls before Liger has to the steal the win in a flash. What is this bizarro world match? This had a really great opening that was hinting at a hidden classic and then turned into a fun somewhat flawed junior match. Still, way too fun, with Hoshino getting big chants and of course continueing his beating on Liger after the match with the ref doing a flip bump for a Hoshino punch. Liger really doesn't look like he'd have arguably the greatest junior match ever just a few days after this, but I was glad he let Hoshino have this match anyways.

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Jushin Liger vs Kantaro Hoshino - NJPW 8/5/89

Jushin Liger was the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion at this point, but I dont believe this was a title defense. This is a handheld. I do not believe I have had the pleasure of watching Hoshino yet as I have not watched any of the famous New Japan MULTI-MANs YET where he won over the hearts of the PWO/DVDVR faithful. This is also five days before one of the greatest Juniors matches of all time where Liger defends against Naoki Sano. 

If you ever want to hear a heel crowd watch this match! At first I thought it was just our cameraman and his section, but eventually the whole arena was chanting for Hoshino and not just during the match but after the match even though he laid down a sick heel beatdown.

Jumpstart at the beginning with Hoshino attacking Liger at the bell. This is my one criticism of early Liger are these long heat segments ala babyface Lawler and babyface Savage where they get beat on and beat on but do not offer much in the way of hope spots. It is a blessing because Hoshino is great as a kickass heel on top. He beat sling Liger all around in the ring and out of the ring into railings. Great clubbering offense, nice dropkick and a wicked punch which in Japan is always a pleasant treat. I think Liger could have increased the drama/tension by peppering in the hope spots as opposed to sort of saying "Ok your turn is over, now it is my turn". The first is using Hoshino momentum against him and throwing him out of the ring. This leads to a wicked Baseball Slide and then and awesome dive through the ropes. One great thing about early Liger is how he would hurl his body with reckless abandon. As he got older, he got stockier and stronger and became more of the grounded, hard-hitting, powerful junior of the division, but early Liger was all about high-octane offense. Hoshino regain control and hits a dive off the top rope to the floor. Hoshino works the leg and eventually goes after the mask and starts in with more awesome punches. Liger goes back on offense and NAILS a wicked Koppou Kick in the corner. That was fabulous. Hoshino cuts him off before he can hit the Diving Headbutt, press slamming him off the top ala Flair. Hoshino gets two red hot nearfalls on crossbodies that the crowd wanted so bad to be the finish. He hits his Powerbomb for his big nearfall, but the crowd didnt bite as hard. Liger wins with a roll-up. I would have liked a bigger finish for the champion even if the crowd wouldnt have loved it. Hoshino beats up the ref and Liger post-match. Excellent Hoshino performance, Liger was very giving as usual, which did make some the transitions feel abrupt, but he was fantastic on offense. Looking forward to the Liger/Hoshino tag later in the month. ***1/2

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